Rescued illegal miners charged, others stay underground

2014-02-17 08:41

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Eleven illegal miners who were rescued from an abandoned mine in Benoni on the East Rand have been charged, say Gauteng police.

“They will be appearing in the Benoni Magistrates’ Court [on Tuesday] on charges of illegal mining,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale.

The group was in police custody.

The men were brought up from the mine shaft yesterday and examined by emergency workers. No injuries were reported.

At least 200 more illegal miners are believed to be trapped underground.

Rescue workers abandoned their rescue mission yesterday evening after the remaining men refused to be brought to the surface.

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said: “After the 11 illegal miners had been brought up, the rest heard they would be arrested and said they did not want to come back up.”

It was too dangerous for the rescue workers to go down into the mine.

Food and water was sent down to the miners and officials said there was enough oxygen for them.

“However, it remains unsafe and the shaft can fall at any minute,” said Vermaak.

Emergency workers said they would not be returning to the mine until the miners indicated they were ready to come up.

However, police and private security companies remained at the shaft.

The illegal miners were found yesterday while emergency services were conducting operations around the illegal mining in the area. They were discovered after they had heard people shouting from the abandoned mine.

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